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New strategy for the occupied territories

By Messenger Staff
Monday, July 12
The Georgian Government has adopted a new action plan which details how it will implement its State Strategy on the Occupied Territories. The main thrust of this is to develop and strengthen contacts with the people living in the occupied territories. The strategy has been approved by the West but completely ignored by the Tskhinvali and Sokhumi puppet regimes. The Georgian leadership very optimistically hopes that the strategy will be successful, but does not explain how it can actually make any difference in areas it does not control.

The plan elaborated by the Ministry of Reintegration has four main elements: humanitarian, human, social and economic action. Certain instruments will be used to further the plan: introducing status-neutral ID cards and travel documents; building a foundation of trust between Georgia and all people living in the occupied territories; creating a joint investment fund; creating a cooperation agency; creating joint financial institutions and establishing an integrated social-economic zone. The projects highlighted in the action plan are designed to address existing realities and needs on the ground and each instrument will serve the interests of ordinary people. Therefore their use should not meet serious obstacles, or at least this is what the authors of the plan think.

Minister of Reintegration Temur Iakobashvili thinks that the most effective instrument will be developing trade and common economic interests. The action plan seeks to depoliticise of the contacts between the people remaining in the occupied territories and the rest of the country, and one of its most important segments is the creation of social-economic zones to facilitate inter-relations between people living on either side of the administrative borders. This proposal reminded some of the Ergneti illegal market which existed on the administrative border between the Tskhinvali region and the rest of Georgia at the end of the 1990s and beginning of the 2000s, before the Rose Revolution. Prime Minister Nika Gilauri said that initially very small steps would be taken to implement this part of the action plan so as to prevent illegal acts, though it is unlikely that illegal trade could ever be completely stamped out if legal trade, and therefore financial expectations, is allowed to flourish.

The plan also includes establishing high level non-political contacts in the spheres of healthcare and education. The Georgian Government has expressed a readiness to send young people from the occupied territories abroad for their education. Such people need legal, valid documents so they can move around the world, and thatís why IDs with neutral status are to be introduced. A special cooperation agency will resolve any problems which might emerge in this direction. A trust fund will be created to accumulate financial resources allotted by the Georgian Government and other organisations which will be spent on supporting initiatives by people from the occupied territories, who should apply for funding to meet the needs they identify. The trustees of this foundation will decide which projects to finance. The Georgian Government is also willing to cooperate with the de facto administrations of the occupied territories.

As Temur Iakobashvili stated every six months the action plan will be revisited and what works and what does not work identified. The EU has officially confirmed Georgiaís new strategy and action plan and expressed its readiness to support it, as Catherine Ashton, the EU's Foreign Policy Issues Representative, has stated. Let us now see whether the Georgian Government means what it says and whether the Russians and their puppets really want the Abkhaz and Ossetians to receive all the help they can get.